True Crime Corner: John Wayne Gacy

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Born on March 17, 1942, John Wayne Gacy was raised in Chicago to John Stanley Gacy and Marion Robinson. Son of an alcoholic father, John, his mother, and two other siblings were subject to horrible abuse.
At a young age, Gacy realized he was homosexual, which furthered this seclusion. Despite the abuse and isolation John faced as a child, he strived for his father’s approval. Afraid of the disappointment from his father, Gacy never came out.
John Wayne Gacy found a job as a management trainee in the ‘Nunn-Bush Shoe Company.’ He found considerable success in the company and was soon made the manager of his department in Illinois. There he met his future wife, whom he married in 1964. Together they moved to Waterloo, a quaint community in northeastern Iowa. They bore two children.
At this point in his life, Gacy was at his peak. Married to Marlynn Meyers with two children, successful, and seen as an upstanding member of his community, John had what every family wanted, or so it seemed. The Jaycees, what was perceived as an honorable part of the town, had a side no one expected. Many members took part in prostitution, wife swapping, and excessive drug abuse. Gacy took part in all of these activities, going even farther to satisfy his homosexuality by opening a club in his basement. He offered drugs and alcohol to young people, especially boys. This became a tactic in luring his victims.
In 1967, Gacy was put to trial after a 15-year-old boy accused him of sexually assaulting him in his basement. To keep himself in good stance, doing everything he could to protect his image, Gacy had people beat up the young boy so that he would be too scared to testify. His family proceeded to testify, resulting in a ten-year sentence for sodomy. Gacy’s wife filed for divorce, and he never saw his children again.
He was released on parole after serving only 18 months of his 10-year sentence. He moved to Chicago to start fresh, and he remarried. In 1971 he was accused of sexual assault once again; the charges were dropped, though, when the boy did not show up to the trial.
John joined the Jolly Jokers Clown Club, a group of people who dressed as clowns and performed at birthday parties. He named himself Pogo the Clown, and frequently used this personality when he killed young boys.
The first killing was not until 1972, when John stabbed 16-year-old Timothy McCoy in his own home. In 1975, a teenager who worked for Gacy went missing. The family of the teenager went to the police asking them to investigate Gacy, but the police never investigated it. On December 11, 1978, a boy named Robert Piest went missing, last seen by his mother on the way to Gacy’s home. After a report was made by Robert Piest’s mother, police finally investigated Gacy for the first time, and on December 21 of the same year, a police search uncovered evidence of Gacy’s killings.
It was soon revealed Gacy had killed at least 33 young men, 26 of whom were buried in the crawl space of his home, others buried throughout various places of the property, and some even thrown into the Des Plaines river.
Once at his home, Gacy would handcuff or tie up the men after getting them drunk or knocking them out with chloroform. He would then torture his victims in various ways – fire poker, dripping hot candle wax on them, drowning them in his bathtub, placing them on a homemade rack, and even urinating on them.
Usually he would kill his victims by strangling them and often would dress up as “Pogo the Clown” while doing so. Gacy then buried the bodies under the crawlspace, pouring lime juice to hasten decomposition.
Gacy’s trial began on Feb 6, 1980 in which he admitted to all the crimes he had committed. The jury debated for hours, not on whether he was guilty or not, but on his sanity. After many medical examinations and much deliberation, Gacy was found guilty of his crimes. He was sentenced 12 death sentences and 21 natural life sentences. Later on, in prison, Gacy retracted his confession, claiming innocence. He went even farther to create a 900 number which entailed a 12-minute recording declaring his innocence when called. Gacy died by lethal injection on May 10, 1994 at the Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, IL.

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